Don’t be that guy

Giff Constable design

We needed a design for a t-shirt, and we needed it fast.

It’s early 1995 at Trilogy, a 90-person enterprise software company. I’m in product marketing for Conquer (a new initiative which got renamed the slightly less hubristic “”). We had just made a snap decision to buy a booth at a conference that was literally about to happen. We needed swag.

So I trot over to Jeremy Epstein, our talented HCI/UI designer.

“I need a t-shirt design.”

“… what?” [Jeremy, looking up from something no doubt important]

“I need a t-shirt design for this conference.”

“What conference? Which product? I’ve got a huge list of things to do. Why are you bothering me?”

“It needs to be awesome and cool. But don’t worry, this won’t take long. Actually, we’ve got about 15 minutes before I have to get it to the printers.”

Every profession has their version of “the look”. Programmers wear it when someone says, “stupid vanity feature X won’t take any time to code, right?” I was getting the designer version.

To Jeremy’s credit, he rolled with it. He just happen to roll with it while dripping with sarcasm for our lack of preparedness, lead time, or thought.

“Riiiggghhhttt… awesome and cool. Check. 15 minutes. Check.”

What happened over the next 2 minutes was my first lesson in the power of Photoshop filters to, well, to create a giant purple globe ball thing full of spaghetti lightning.

“Here. Now go away.”

We made the t-shirts. We made the conference.

I had a purple spaghetti lightning ball t-shirt in my drawer for years.

Good visual design takes time and thought and iteration. It doesn’t spring out of designers’ heads like thought bubbles.

Sometimes there are fire drills that simply cannot be avoided, but I do my best not to be that guy.

Unless you actually want a photoshop-filter globular purple spaghetti lightning ball thing.